Resident Evil 4 VR cuts out the sleaziness around Ashley

Leon sits on a throne in Resi 4.
(Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 4 VR is now in the wild (we'll have a review soon), a port-remake of Capcom's survival horror classic, developed by Facebook's Oculus Studios and Armature Studios. First released in 2005 for the Nintendo Gamecube, Resident Evil 4 basically invented the modern style of third-person action game, and its influence can be seen in everything from Resident Evil Village to God of War.

It was first rumoured a month ago that the port will remove certain aspects of the original that, in 2021, don't hold up so well. Most of this revolves around Ashley, the president's daughter and the person that Leon has to protect for most of the game. Ashley is a young woman and the original game includes several moments where male characters express an attraction towards her or comment on her physique.

For example, upon meeting Ashley the supporting character Luis Sera says in a cutscene "I see the president has equipped his daughter with ballistics", where the context and camera angle makes it clear he's referring to Ashley's breasts. Or when Ashley is at a higher level in the environment, Leon can try to aim up her skirt, which causes Ashley's character model to hide the area and call the player a pervert (there are several responses she has to this: all along similar lines).

These elements have been removed from Resident Evil 4 VR (thanks, IGN). As well as the Ashley elements, Leon's flirting with his US handler Ingrid Hunnigan is toned-down.

At the most obvious level this is about the changing attitudes to misogynistic tropes in games and the general objectification of women over the last decade-plus. It's not exactly core to Resident Evil 4 that the male characters would sometimes be slimeballs to Ashley, so it seems like an easy decision to snip it out. And when it comes to the 'upskirting' the cringe is surely squared by the idea of players being able to do it in VR.

"Oculus Studios, Armature, and Capcom partnered closely to remaster Resident Evil 4 from the ground up for VR," said a Facebook statement. "This includes immersive environments and high-resolution graphics. It also includes select changes to in-game dialogue and animations that we believe will update Resident Evil 4 for a modern audience."

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."